Friday, September 5, 2014

All is Golden

River rocks are round in the Esopus River. Phoenicia, NY.

What a fun summer this has been. In June I moved into a new home and new studio; in July I went camping, celebrated my birthday, and spend two and a half weeks at Penland School of Crafts. The cherry on top was a ten-day visit at the end of August with my mother in upstate NY.
I've been referring to this as my "off the grid" vacation because I was without internet the whole time. Basically I sipped a lot of coffee with mom on her porch, went swimming at Gilbert Lake (love those NY state parks) and I read a bunch.
Among my literature: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life edited by Sharon Louden, and 9.5 Theses on Art and Class by Ben Davis. The latter has me thinking about the role of artist versus worker, and the political and philosophical contradictions that the contemporary art world finds itself in. It's a chewy read and the writer offers an informed and revelatory perspective.

Inside Golden Artist Colors, Inc. New Berlin, NY

Anyway! Returning to the original intention of this post -- I did some research and realized that my mother lives just forty minutes from Golden Artist Colors, Inc and the Golden Foundation for the Arts in New Berlin, NY. I've been curious about these places for two reasons:
1). I use Golden products all the time and I work with them a lot in my classes.
2). Golden offers four week residencies to painters with unlimited use and experimentation of their products.

I should have taken a picture of the residency facilities but I forgot, and so you'll just have to look at this sculpture that was on the premises and wait until next year if/when I do the residency :)
The artist residencies -- studios and living quarters -- are situated in a converted chicken barn which provides a stunning view of the amazing countryside. I'm biased because upstate NY is where I grew up, but it really is gorgeous. The "barn" houses private rooms for residents and a shared living space. It looks like a beautiful place to be for four weeks (if you can tolerate living in the middle of nowhere) and, like I wrote earlier, they encourage you to use any and all of their products.


The Golden Artist Colors, Inc headquarters are right down the road from the foundation and let it be known -- here and now -- that I, Ursula Gullow, fully endorse Golden products and their subsidiaries, Williamsburg Oil Paints and Qor Watercolors. Why? Because they are worker owned.

Worker. Owned. How. Cool.

The other reason is that all those products are top quality, loaded with pigment, and super lux to work with. You might also be delighted to know that the Golden labels and sample charts are prepared by hand. Every time you go to an art supply store and see those samples of Golden mediums, pastes and paints-- and all those tube labels baring a single swoosh of color -- please remember that someone actually made those in New Berlin, NY.

She's making samples!

Another fun thing is that each sample sheet is signed by the person who
prepares it.

Signature is to the left of the Golden logo at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for the tour, Golden! I hope to return soon. xo

Sunday, August 10, 2014


This isn't the typical scenario one conjures up when thinking about Penland School of Crafts, but I couldn't resist uploading this photo. I think it's beautiful. Construction is under way for a new drawing and painting facility on campus. Does this mean we'll be seeing more drawing and painting classes offered at Penland in the future? I hope so!

From July 20 - August 5 I attended a class called "Experimental Drawing and Printmaking" which combined non-conventional drawing approaches with intaglio and monoprinting. For one exercise, drawing instructor, Evie Woltil Richner, had us make our own unique drawing tools and use them to create marks on paper in graphite and ink. The results were spectacular, but I was also interested in rendering the objects themselves. 

Another experiment had us drawing, literally, alongside another person with our wrists bound together. Here I was bound with a classmate, Lisette Chavez, who grew to become a close friend during the two weeks of the class. Lisette is a talented artist who just got her MFA in printmaking with a focus on lithography. For this drawing we were sitting across from each other and drew each other's portraits.  At some point I will reproduce this drawing onto a t-shirt because I love it so much.

Here I am painting pure pigment and gum arabic onto a plastic board which will be rolled through a press and printed onto paper -- a monoprint! This is the first one I ever made.

On the left is the "ghost" of the monoprint (the second run.) I'm not sure why, but intestinal tubes and grubbish shapes were recurring in many of my monoprints, perhaps because of the globular nature of the paint.

I ended up doing nine monoprints for my Self Exam series, along with nine ghosts. (They will be uploaded next week.)
This is one of my first intaglio prints! Remember the tools from earlier? I scratched these drawings with an etching tool into a thin coating of hard ground covering a zinc plate.The plate was then put into a nitric acid bath which ate away the exposed lines. After the hard ground was cleaned off, the plate was wiped with ink to fill in the lines. Wet paper was rolled through the press to pick up the ink in the lines. There are all kinds of tricks you can learn to get the lines deeper and darker. There are terms like "spit bite" and "open bite" that refer to the way the acid eats into the plate.

Intaglio printing and rainbow surface rolls! The rainbow is quite a complex maneuver, so Ms. Printer Extraordinaire, Lisette, (top right) rolled it out with a steady hand. A surface roll reveals the etched lines as negatives. In the last frame you see where I chose to only fill a selection of lines AND do a surface roll -- fancy!

The key word of the class is "experimental." This is a monoprint on top of an intaglio print.

I experimented a bunch with this plate to evolve the image.You see how the lines of the cat are slightly darker than the rest? That indicates that those lines are deeper than the others on the plate. The printmaking teacher, Robert Mueller, says he can read a plate with no ink on it and know almost exactly what print it will yield. Impressive!

Since I've been back in Asheville, I've been hand-coloring some of my prints. 

I have a million more pictures I could share, and a lot more I could say about the fun people I met, the talented teachers, and the eclectic classes offered during my visit. 
In short, I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to learn a new skill or build upon an old one. If you have a hard time being in a lush region with temperamental weather shifts, or have problems with the sound of cicadas, or cannot deal with having limited Internet connection, or dislike eating wholesome meals in the company of people you barely know, or don't like having roommates or sharing a bathroom, then maybe, just maybe, you might consider a pass on this experience (or at least take your meals to go and/or request a single room.)
But not me.  Penland, thank you for this amazing journey. I hope to return soon!

Penland offers many scholarship and work-study opportunities to help students cover the cost of tuition and room/board. I'd like to extend a special thank-you to Rob Williams and Warren Womble, wherever they may be, for funding a scholarship that enabled me to do all of this without cost.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Penland Scholarship

I'm excited to share the good news:

I have received a full scholarship to attend a workshop at Penland School of Crafts, in beautiful Mitchell County, NC July 20-August 5th. I will be studying with Evie Woltil Richner as part of her Experiments in Drawing & Printmaking. Here's a bit from the online course description:

"We’ll begin with a focus on capturing a sense of place through drawing and observing the world of Penland. Then we’ll bring these collected drawings and experiences into the print studio to prompt our experiments in monoprinting, soft and hard ground etching, and combinations thereof. This workshop will collaborate extensively with Robert Mueller’s workshop in the print studio."

I applied for this class specifically because I'm really attracted to Evie's work, and because I have practically no printmaking experience and have always wanted to learn more.

In the summer of 2004 I studied plein air painting at Penland and the experience was eye-opening! Not to mention, the food is delicious, the campus is spectacular and the people are a loving bunch. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to take an art vacation and learn new skills. I'll be sure to post some images of my projects along with an updates about the class.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Self Exam

Remember the self portrait challenge I started last summer? I've been sticking with it - one portrait everyday for the last six months, and the project continues indefinitely. I've uploaded them all to a Tumblr site (sorry blogspot) which you can check out at

I paint these everyday and get them scanned and converted to digital files which is why I'm always at least a week behind in posting them. Ideally I would post them every week. (Looks like I may have to invest in a scanner.)

It's rare now that I spend more than 25 minutes on one portrait and I always look in the mirror or use my computer camera because it is essential that I work from my reflection and not a memory.


I became mildly obsessed with painting houses in snow last month. I particularly enjoyed smothering the paintings in white paint then scratching into their surfaces. My favorite tool for this series was a plastic gift card from Michael's (I don't think there's any money left on it, but I really should double check.)